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LV HOLIDAY CLASSIC: Liberty’s defense smothers Douglas

Liberty’s girls basketball team doesn’t really attempt to trick anyone on defense.

The Patriots aggressively pressure and trap all over the floor from the opening tip until it isn’t needed any more.

On Wednesday, the Patriots showed just how effective their swarming defense can be.

Liberty forced 24 first-half turnovers, building a 33-6 lead and cruising past Douglas 54-15 in the Las Vegas Holiday Classic at Centennial.

“That’s a lot of turnovers,” Liberty coach Quintin Lester said. “We just knew that they didn’t have anybody who could really create for them, so if we could just challenge defensively and get our hands out and force some turnovers, we’d be successful.”

Liberty (11-1) led 6-4 in the opening minutes before going on a 19-0 run, capped by Alena Evans’ transition basket with just more than five minutes left in the second quarter.

Erica Macias’ basket with 4:40 to play in the second quarter accounted for Douglas’ only points of the quarter, and Liberty closed the half on an 8-0 spurt.

All but one of the 24 first-half turnovers came off of errant passes by Douglas or Liberty steals, and it led to easy offense for the Patriots, who have thrived so far this season in transition.

“It’s been the staple of our program,” said Lester, who is in his third season. “They know if they don’t defend that they’re not going to play, no matter if they can put the ball in the basket or not.”

Liberty’s 11 wins have come by an average of 41.5 points, despite having lost three guards to graduation from last season’s Class 4A state runner-up team.

The transition offense, though, hasn’t lost a beat.

Sydney Clark had 14 points, Evans tallied 12 and Tae’lor Monroe 11 for Liberty, which held Douglas without a point in the final 10 minutes of the game. The Tigers finished with 38 turnovers.

“There are times when our offense hasn’t clicked,” said Lester, whose team beat Western 59-7 in its first tournament game Wednesday. “There are games where it looks good and other games where we don’t get much. If we can continue to defend, we’ll be in every game.”

Liberty 59, Western 7 — Evans had 14 points, and the Patriots bolted to an 18-1 lead after one quarter on their way to an easy win over the Warriors.

Sydney Clark added 12 points for Liberty, which outscored Western 24-1 in the second half.

Highland (Ariz.) 59, Western 15 — Jordan Hagen led a balanced attack with 10 points as Highland routed the Warriors.

Mylasia Smith had 11 points for Western.

Coronado 46, Arbor View 24 — Sofie Cruz and Skylar Feldman tallied 11 points apiece to help the Cougars top the Aggies.

Coronado opened the game on a 13-1 run and never looked back.

Jena Valenzuela and Dani Chaney had six points apiece for Arbor View.

Coronado 40, Santa Fe (Calif.) 32 — Cruz had 20 points, and the Cougars outscored Santa Fe, 10-4 in the third quarter on the way to the win.

Aubre Fortner added eight points for Coronado.

West (Calif.) 55, Arbor View 12 — Sydney Chase tallied 14 points, and West rolled to a 26-2 first-quarter lead on its way to the easy win.

Granite Hills (Calif.) 82, Shadow Ridge 35 — Jessica Harris poured in 21 points, and Kaylie Williams added 19 points as Granite Hills overwhelmed the Mustangs.

Sabriya Brooks paced Shadow Ridge with 15 points, and teammate Rayven Thomas scored 10.

Jurupa Valley (Calif.) 47, Shadow Ridge 40 — Charmaine Wayne had 20 points as Jurupa Valley erased a 25-18 halftime deficit and topped the Mustangs.

Thomas had 11 points for Shadow Ridge.

Granite Hills (Calif.) 51, Valley 33 — Harris tallied 17 points, and Granite Hills used a 10-2 run to end the third quarter on its way to the win.

Tyricia Payne led Valley with 15 points.

Reno 59, Valley 43 — Shannon Gough scored 16 points, and the Huskies outscored the Vikings 25-15 in the second quarter en route to the win.

Gabby Cabanero and Payne each had 13 points for Valley.

Centennial 69, Moapa Valley 20 — Natalia Pitt had 17 points, and the Bulldogs never looked back after taking a 22-2 first-quarter lead.

Simone Barber added 15 points for Centennial.

Ashley Noto led Moapa Valley with 13 points.

Centennial 52, Carson 13 — Tamera Williams scored 13 points, and the Bulldogs led 24-1 after the first quarter in an easy win over the Senators.

Jada Brown added 12 points for Centennial.

Mira Costa (Calif.) 63, Moapa Valley 23 — Meghan Peneveta led a balanced attack with 16 points, and Mira Costa raced to a 26-7 halftime lead on its way to a win over the Pirates.

Noto had 11 points for Moapa Valley.

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